Sadly I have nothing new to post about conference as in the dying stages of it, I did not find anything of great interest to spark another conference post. However, we (Erica, Chris and I) did get out into the city and checked out 10 libraries. Using our GPS (I thought Chris was sending me a text about ‘groups’ and couldn’t work out why we would have to pay for ‘groups’ in the rental car. Then realised it was GPS and was very excited about the chance to play with some new technology. I am now in love with GPS, although I do understand how important it is to be able to read paper maps), we traversed the volcanic mounds of Auckland on a journey of discovery and what interesting things we saw. The libraries we visited were as varied and representative of the diverse communities within the Auckland metro area.
Auckland City Libraries – Commencing our journey in the very affluent and pretty suburb of St Heliers we were surprised by the lovely airy interior of the library that belied the old fashioned exterior. Recently refurbished and remodelled they had managed to combine some lovely old features with modern technology and needs to great effect. Interestingly, the children’s area was bland and uninspiring. We discovered later in the journey that there was not a dedicated children’s person at each library and this became very evident as we went from place to place. Next stop Epsom, Rodney Hide country. The key features of this library were the shape (large octagon) and the very large self issue stats. Considering the age of the population, the myth of ‘old people’ not liking technology remains just that, a myth.
Moving into a the more multi cultural suburb of Mt Roskill we discovered a lovely library in a not so great building. AP uses the same colour palate for all libraries with the same furniture so we were picking up on the theme by this stage. What this library had though was a great children’s area and a library with huge ethnic diversity. Another theme we were picking up on related to floating collections. We left feeling very excited about what ‘floating’ collections can do for customers and staff. Less handling of stock for couriers and library staff, better looking collections, refreshed daily with new titles. Customers don’t know about floating collections but do comment on the refreshed nature of their library’s collections. No more complaining about having read out the library on any one subject. AP floats picture books, large print and something else I can’t remember right now.
Final stop on our AP adventure was Onehunga. Very very different from St Heliers. A lovey newish building with lots of light, there was nothing stunning about this library. We had already seen all the furniture and the colours and the staff were too busy to engage with so we wandered around and smiled at people and then took our leave. One key difference I noticed here were the children sitting in the foyer eating pies as their afternoon snack. The whole place reminded me of New Brighton which was nice.
A question we asked ourselves at the beginning of our trip was ‘is it a good idea to ‘brand’ our library interiors with a colour palate and furniture styles?’ Answer: ‘No- not for us’.